Microsoft Surface Go vs Apple iPad: comparison

Microsoft Surface Go vs Apple iPad: comparison
Microsoft has a new and affordable tablet in town: welcome the Microsoft Surface Go, a 10-inch tablet with the Windows experience on board, support for a pen, a neat adjustable hinge and a few other extras.

So... should you buy this new Surface? When faced with this question, most people will have to make the choice between the new Surface Go and the other big name in tablets: the Apple iPad.

In order to compare the new Surface Go to the iPad, let's first take a look at the families of Surface devices and iPads to understand which iPad should we compare it to.

Microsoft's lineup of Surface devices:

  • Surface Book: a 2-in-1 with detachable tablet mode, prices from $1,200
  • Surface Laptop: a traditional Windows laptop made by Microsoft, prices from $800
  • Surface Pro: a 12.3-inch tablet with attachable keyboard cover, support for Intel Core i series chips, prices from $800
  • Surface Go: a 10-inch tablet with a lower-power processor, but still running full Windows, prices from $400

Apple's iPad lineup:

  • iPad Pro 10.5" prices from $650
  • iPad Pro 12.9" from $800
  • iPad from $330
  • iPad mini 4 from $400

The specs

Judging by price and size, it's clear that the new Surface Go is a direct competitor to the 9.7-inch 6th generation Apple iPad that retails for slightly less than Microsoft's tablet.

First, let's take a look at the difference in screen size and technology: the Surface Go sports a 10-inch PixelSense display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1800 x 1200 pixels, while the iPad has a 9.7-inch screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a 1536 x 2048 pixel resolution. Both are two very sharp display, but you get a slightly sharper screen on the iPad.

Also, both tablets support pen input. The Go is compatible with the Surface Pen, allowing 4096 levels of pressure, and the iPad supports the Apple Pencil. The Go weighs 1.15 lbs, a little heavier than the iPad, but also about half a pound lighter than the beefier Surface Pro.

Under the hood, the Surface is powered by a 7th-Generation Intel Pentium Gold processor. This gold processor is the big question mark in the whole Surface Go idea as we are yet to see whether it will be powerful enough to drive demanding Windows applications. The iPad, on the other hand, runs on the Apple A10 Fusion chip.

You get two different storage options on the Microsoft tablet: a 64GB eMMC base model and a 128GB SSD version, while on the iPad you get to pick between a 32GB base version and a 128GB one.

In terms of battery life, the Surface Go official numbers are slightly lower than those of the iPad: the Go is said to last up to 9 hours on a single charge, while the iPad can last up to 10 hours.

The Experience

The Surface Go runs on Windows 10, while the iPad features the latest version of iOS, and that is a profound difference in the experience.

With the inclusion of an integrated kickstand for the surface and with the well thought out keyboard and mouse experience, the Surface is a much better productivity machine, a much more convenient laptop replacement than an iPad. The support for various desktop apps is another huge benefit for those who want to get things done on the go as iOS software might be lighter, but does not quite offer as much versatility.

But then there are a few features that make the Surface Go much more practical than any iPad: first, it supports a USB-C 3.1 port for fast and easy transfer of data, and secondly, it has a microSD card slot for memory expansion.

Summing it all up, the Surface is a bit bigger, heavier, bulkier, but still fairly light and supporting the full Windows experience, while the iPad is a thin, elegant, light gadget perfect for media consumption, but maybe just not quite as good for productivity.

Finally, we should note that the Surface Go is not currently offered with 4G LTE support and you can only get a Wi-Fi one, while iPads are offered in both styles. Microsoft has promised an LTE model will come later this year, though.

So... which one would you rather get?

Related phones

Surface Go
  • Display 10.0" 1800 x 1200 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Intel Pentium, Dual-core, 1600 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
iPad 9.7-inch (2018)
  • Display 9.7" 1536 x 2048 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 8827 mAh



1. notfair

Posts: 755; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

"It all boils down to Windows 10 vs iOS" - There is really no comparison between them because the Surface runs FULL WINDOWS 10!!!!!

2. yalokiy

Posts: 1051; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Surface Go runs on Fool Windows 10 S


Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Yes Windows 10S but you can upgrade to Windows 10Pro for free! You cannot compare Windows with iOS!, iOS will be eaten alive.........Legacy apps vs Mobile apps.......nuff said!

8. yalokiy

Posts: 1051; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

If it is indeed possible for free, I do agree.

13. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

12. path45th

Posts: 406; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

You are right. You can not compare it because iOS is a tablet OS and Windows is a pc OS. I personally don’t need to have a pc and legacy apps all of the time especially when I travel. Microsoft has to to learn that one-OS-fit-all-sizes and types of devices doesn’t work. Especially for mobile devices.

18. skips

Posts: 482; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

y'all act like the tablet will run anything and everything ever made. it's not a fast tablet by any means. just because it runs won't mean it will run it well. i am not sure about how well a lower end tablet will run windows 10. reviews on such tablets before generally have had only one conclusion - runs basic apps (casual webbrowsing, not even heavy/ multimedia playback,etc) , but struggles with everything else. if the leaks of benchmarks are all true, ( i might be wrong with all of this and this tablet could actually be a decent choice. time will tell. but due to how cheaper windows have been in the past, i'm a bit skeptical.

23. deleon629

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Exactly. My Note 8 can run Windows 10 with the right mods, but the limitations of its specs and supported software make it a pain in the ass to attempt hardcore desktop functionality. Same can be said about a tablet with sub-par specs, so I really hope MSFT knows what they're doing this time around.

25. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Full blown Windows 10 is useless on a tablet like Surface Go due to lack of things to do with it. Not everybody draw paintings using adobe

9. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

I have a Surface Pro and an iPad Pro and I can tell you, running full Windows 10 isn't always a good thing. Especially in tablet mode (without the kb) it can be a nuisance to have the active window (partly) behind the on-screen keyboard. Both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses and it all depends on personal preferences and usage.

22. deleon629

Posts: 469; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

A total insult of the intelligence of the tech community that frequents this site. Worse yet, they ask what it's worth when compared to the lowest-specd iPad, at that... But truth be told, we gotta blame MSFT for this. Devices in the past have failed to deliver on the promise of providing the boasted 'desktop experience in tablet form' for a number of years. Top that off with the battery & screen-flickering issues, and you have a multi-billion dollar company basically 'rolling out the red carpet' for Apple and all other competitors, to buy time for R&D or app development. They'd dropped the ball once, so I say give them time to show & prove that they've at least tried to develop beyond their bullsh*t

24. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Oh yes there is a BIG comparison between iOS on iPad and Windows on a tablet. Windows 10 sin't specifically built for a touch interface, It's just the same windows 10 which anyone run on their PCs, it's just not as optimized as iOS on an iPad. Thus iPad work so much better with touch inputs compared to these surface products. iPad has so much more very good Apps compared to Surface tablets. That's pretty much sums it up.

3. Vokilam

Posts: 1278; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

You need to add the cost of the Apple Pencil to iPad prices (that is if Surface comes with stylus, included)

7. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

For Surface, Go stylus is 100$ extra, same as keyboard 130$.

11. Vokilam

Posts: 1278; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

thanks, didnt know that. nevermind then.

10. cmdacos

Posts: 4264; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Surface doesn't include either

5. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

It's really easy. iPad - better hardware, subpar software Surface GO - slower hardware, can run programs not just brain-dead apps.

15. midan

Posts: 3010; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

It's actually the iPad which has amazing software and all designed for Touchscreen. Why would you run programs? They aren't made for Touchscreen, the experience is very bad. I remembered when first Surface came and people said how great is to run legacy programs, but who would want to use programs which are designed for completely different hardware interface

16. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Why would you want to run programs? Because I not only use Facebook and watch youtube, but I also work on a PC. Plus really, you don't have to explain to me, how the touchscreen works on a Win10 tablet. I did install/test more than 500 of those. I own iPad Pro and software experience sucks big time.

20. yalokiy

Posts: 1051; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Without keyboard and pen the experience is not good, but you can plug those in and do some work. On ipad you don't even have an option to install a full-blown photoshop.

27. midan

Posts: 3010; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"On ipad you don't even have an option to install a full-blown Photoshop" No you have something better, affinity, it's like photoshop but made for touchscreen usage, it's quite amazing app. I wouldn't use real photoshop with tablet, the workflow is just bad.

30. japkoslav

Posts: 1517; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

You can't even connect iPad to a screen, plug a mouse. Even text processors are a pain on iOS. Even something as simple can be made worse. iPads are great toys.

6. IronTech

Posts: 153; Member since: May 27, 2016

It's about a PC OS vs a phone OS. LOL

14. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Can't they be friendly with Qualcomm? Optimize their OS for SD845, and in return maybe Qualcomm can give them price cut so they can make SD845 powered surface.

17. kg4icg

Posts: 83; Member since: May 18, 2008

Also you can add external devices to surface go where you can't with a iPad.

19. Aruminiumaian

Posts: 209; Member since: Jul 22, 2017

So it all boils down to whether you want a faster hardware restricted by mobile OS, or full desktop OS that runs like crap because of slow chipset. If it was Core M that is found inside Surface Go instead of Pentium, it would've been so much easier to pick. If I had to get one, I would go for iPad.

21. yalokiy

Posts: 1051; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Depends on what you need to run. There are many PC apps that it will handle just fine. e.g. photoshop works fast enough on a win10 virtual machine on an old i5 cpu that has about the same geekbench score with 4gb ram. I have an ipad air 2, but would consider this tablet if I needed a lightweight PC for work.

26. KingSam

Posts: 1472; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

For school Windows or Mac is a must.(programs we use in computer science. For me iPad are multimedia devices and that's why I'm getting one. I also need a $500 range laptop so this might be an option or the new Huawei notebook D.

28. Cyberchum

Posts: 1093; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

When I see iPad, the only thing that comes to mind is multimedia and casual productivity. . For my needs, I'd take the Surface Go any day. My 6 incher is enough a multimedia device, and, even with a way smaller display, it beats the iPad at actual productivity.

29. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

This isn't even a competition, as the Microsoft surface products run a full-blown PC OS, while the Ipads run a smartphone OS. It simply isn't a contest just based on that. However, if you also factor in the additionally ports of the Surface products, along with the default functionality to equip a mouse and keyboard, then the Surface products once again just offer a better package. This really isn't close, but then again the article did kind of hint at that.

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